Painted Response

This painting and writing reflection task asks students to respond to their earlier Musical Mural work – selecting a section to explore and expand upon. Students are restricted to a small canvas size, upon which colours, shapes and textures inform the new piece.


This activity was conducted in studioFive at MGSE as part of our Master of Teaching course.


  • Abstraction and simplification
  • Annotation
  • Written response

Skills and Techniques

  • Painting
  • Scaling
  • Palette selection
  • Masking


  • Acrylic paint
  • Grey lead pencil
  • Art board – 15cm x 25cm


Students are invited to select a section of the Musical Mural to respond to. It can be a section that they worked on or an area that they haven’t been involved with previously.

Provide students with a limited range of acrylic paints to build their palettes from, trying to avoid primary colours. Encourage students to select colours that they feel can be mixed towards the colours they see within the Musical Mural.

Demonstrate edge masking on the art board and ask students to mask off the area they would like to paint within on their own boards.

Students can work off the Musical Mural or from photographs of their section and should try to fill the whole of the canvas area in paint.

When the paintings are complete, ask the students to observe the techniques and interpretations of their peers. Demonstrate how to remove the masking tape.

Ask students to consider their selection and mixing of colours and the approach they they took in waiting the Musical Mural. Students can then annotate their thoughts about the work below or around the painting.

Once all annotations are complete, students can once again look at each other’s work – this time reading the written responses and considering how everyone has completed this task in unique ways.

Art Connections

This task gets students thinking about how large, expressive and spontaneous works can be responded to and refined in considered ways. The change of scale from the wall-sized mural down to the small art board, along with a limited colour palette, challenges students to work around restrictions.

VCD Connections

Students can learn how to simplify complex symbols to elemental shapes and to work within restricted colour palettes with this exercise – two skills that are very important in the refinement of communication design concepts.

Related Artists

Richard Diebenkorn

Next Steps

Following lessons can extend these concepts by:

  • The paintings can be used as starting points for screen prints, using the same colour palettes.
  • The painting can be cut out and used as the front page of a zine that students use to respond to more musical and audio inspiration.
  • Scan the painting into Illustrator and use vector tools to translate the shapes, textures and colours into logo concepts.